Iron is a crucial mineral that your body needs to produce essential compounds and carry out vital functions in the body. While you can typically get iron through the proper diet, some people, especially women, can have trouble keeping their iron at an appropriate level. When this occurs, the body cannot produce enough of the compound hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the bloodstream. For those who need to make more effort to have a healthy amount of iron, here are some things you should know about iron deficiency, its effects on the body, and how to increase your iron consumption.
Though anyone can experience the condition of anemia or iron deficiency, it tends to be more commonly found among women. Anemia can be caused by a poor diet, internal injury, or even simply an inability to properly absorb iron, however, for women, it is often due to blood loss that occurs during menstruation, pregnancy, or even conditions such as endometriosis. Because iron provides critical functions in the body, it is extremely important to obtain enough of it daily, especially for pregnant women who require more blood to properly nourish a growing baby. This greater need for iron can be clearly seen in the recommended daily intake, which lies around 15-18mg between the ages of 18 and 50 for women, while the recommended amount for adult men is only around 9mg. When anemia occurs, women may experience a variety of symptoms, or even none at all depending on the severity of the condition. The more severe symptoms can include dizziness, loss of appetite, and fatigue, among others. On a lesser scale, if you give blood regularly, or have a desire to give blood, insufficient iron levels can prevent you from donating until they reach a normal level.
It’s clear to see the importance of iron for women’s overall health and why they may be more at risk for a deficiency, so here are some steps you can take to make sure your body is getting enough iron.
The easiest way to increase iron intake is through eating foods that contain high levels of iron, the most common of which are animal meats, which include red meat, poultry, and even seafood. However, vegetarians and others with similar dietary restrictions will have to look to other iron-rich foods and may have to make more of an effort to make sure they are consuming enough for their daily needs. These alternatives include lentils, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and leafy greens. Whatever your diet, being aware of the appropriate
If the foods themselves aren’t giving you the iron you need, try cooking them with cast iron pans and utensils. Studies have shown that this can significantly increase the amount of iron found in the foods, which can contribute to sufficient iron intake.
Vitamin C has been shown to help increase the absorption of iron in the body. Choosing foods that are high in vitamin C such as citrus, leafy greens, broccoli, and other fruit will make it easier for your body to receive the iron that it needs.
Many who struggle with iron levels find it difficult to obtain the correct amount of iron from just diet alone, and in this case, taking iron supplements is a viable option. When taking these supplements, however, avoid taking too much or taking it with certain foods for best absorption.